Aaron Hoos’ weekly reading list: ‘newsjacking, change, permission marketing, and expertise’ edition

Aaron Hoos: Weekly reading list

Some weeks I have a common theme that runs through the stuff I read. Some weeks I don’t. This week, I read widely and enjoyed a bunch of different topics. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

  • 20 insights on newsjacking. Newsjacking is when a business or blogger writes content about a trending news story with the hope of getting caught up in the attention that the news is receiving… for the purpose of gaining attention, traction, and even additional customers for their business. Although that’s an accurate description of newsjacking, it kind of sounds unethically opportunistic, perhaps even cashing in on someone else’s misfortune. But that’s not really the case. Newsjacking can be very positive — both for businesses and their audiences. (Newsjacking can also go horribly awry). This article presents 20 great insights from marketers on how to ethically capitalize on breaking news.
  • Changing your life is not a mid-life crisis. Here’s a well-written blog post by one of my favorite writers. He talks about the need to change and why we should all embrace change instead of avoiding that one big mid-life change that has become a cliche. And I think this article by Dan Waldschmidt is (unintentionally) related: The simple secret to finding a breakthrough, Waldscmidt says, is to get things done. That hits me between the eyes because I’m in the midst of making exciting changes in my business but I need to always remind myself that it’s not necessarily thinking about the change that is important but whether I’m actually doing it. And another related blog post that I thought was compelling: It’s ten times harder to come back by James Altucher.
  • The evolution of permission marketing. As someone who writes A LOT of emails and autoresponders (for myself and for my clients), this was an important article to read. Permission marketing is changing — subscription rates are dropping, open rates are dropping, click-through rates are dropping. This is a great reminder that I need to say something important each time I write an email.
  • How long can you survive without sleep?. This article explores the idea of sleep and how we function without it. I remember reading another article (but can’t remember which one) a few years ago about how lack of sleep tends to have the same physiological impact as alcoholic impairment. And anecdotally, the quality of my life and my work has improved dramatically since I made sure that I got a good night’s sleep each night.
  • Should you learn physics like Newton is a blog post that examines those initial stages of learning. Specifically, Scott H. Young explores the idea that we can become “beginner proficient” in about 20 hours and we need to work at getting to that first 20 hours and then applying that knowledge. Young also talks about shifting from beginner to expert and answers the question of whether or not one should even become an expert in something.

Financial advisor article published at Agent eNews: Prospecting more effectively in 4 easy steps

I’m co-writing a series of articles for financial professionals, along with my colleague Rosemary Smyth, an international coach to financial advisors.

One of our articles was posted at the Agent eNews site. The article lists four easy steps that financial professionals can use to prospect more effectively.

Check out the article at the link below:

Prospecting more effectively in four easy steps

When should you start a new goal or project?

When you think of a goal, it’s tempting to start at the beginning of a new calendar period.

So we make New Year Resolutions at the beginning of the year.
Or we swear that we’ll stick to our diet starting on Monday.
Or we commit to a new marketing initiative for our business at the beginning of the month.
Or we commit to faithfully maintaining our bookkeeping records… starting tomorrow.

We like the idea of taking initiative and we know that taking on new projects or commitments is a great way to grow ourselves and our businesses. Plus, it only makes sense for it to begin on a new calendar period because we inherently like to start with a fresh piece of proverbial paper.

… Right?

Unfortunately, two things conspire to keep us from succeeding.

  1. Each new day (or week or month or quarter or year) brings its variety of challenges and struggles and it can be hard to integrate that new thing into our lives when we have other new things we’re starting. In other words, we may inadvertently stack up several new starts, which will all compete for the already-limited space in our calendar.
  2. We implicitly give ourselves permission to do nothing (or, worse yet, to do things that run counter to the goal we are about to adopt). Take dieting as an example: If you choose to start your diet next week, what do you eat between now and Monday? The answer, I’m guessing, is “anything that isn’t nailed down”. So the few days between our decision to start and our actual start is potentially an orgiastic bacchanal of debauchery where we smoke twice as many cigarettes or just let our invoices and payments pile up because “we’re dealing with it on Monday”.

The result of these two problems means that we are start our new activity or goal already a couple of steps behind.

So when is the best to start a new goal or project?

Right now.

Right now.

Right now.

RIGHT NOW!

Rather than starting with that fresh piece of proverbial paper, find a way to make it happen immediately.

Do it now because you’ll already be well underway by the time you get to the start of the calendar period when you thought you’d start.

Do it now because your competitors are waiting until the next calendar period to start their thing. You’ll have an advantage over them.

Do it now because you’ll be acting on that initial blast of motivational steam — you might get more done right now (while it’s still exciting) than you would when it becomes a requirement or responsibility.

Do it now because you’ll feel an intense rush of satisfaction that you’re taking action today.

As I write this, it’s Friday and we have guests arriving this evening. Believe me, it’s the very last day that I want to start anything — heck, I’m scrambling to finish a bunch of stuff! It’s SO tempting to wait until I’m back at my desk on Monday. But this is the best time to start something!

So if you’re reading this and you’ve got a project or goal you want to start soon but are putting it off until Monday… STOP. Do it now. Take action immediately.

Do it now!

New challenge: 100 proposals in 100 days

Hey! I just launched a fun new challenge for myself as a way to generate new opportunities in my business. Check it out… and maybe even join in with a similar challenge in your business.

Aaron Hoos, Writer: 100 proposals in 100 days

Starting today, and going for the next 100 days, I will send out 100 proposals to potential clients, joint venture partners, and magazine publishers. In each proposal, I’ll recommend some kind of project or collaboration that will ideally lead to income-generating work by the end of the year. I own a couple of brands and the proposals could be for work in any of these brands.

I’m publishing this on June 27th (day 1). If my calculations are correct, the 100th day will be October 4th.

FIVE RULES TO KEEP ME ON TRACK

  1. A proposal is a customized offer to do a specific project for a specific client or JV partner. Therefore, requests for work from clients do not count as proposals and blanket offers to multiple prospects at the same time do not count as proposals. (However, these can be turned into a proposal if I try to sell an additional, higher-cost custom service to an individual).
  2. A proposal must be sent off before 11:59 PM in order to count toward that day’s proposal.
  3. Proposals can be to new or existing clients or JV partners or publishers but it must for new work. i.e. I can’t just pitch the topic of an article that I’m already planning to write.
  4. Proposals must be for income-generating work to be paid by the end of 2013.
  5. I must be able to do the work I’m proposing. No throwaway proposals!

WHY AM I DOING THIS?

There are a couple of reasons:

First, I’m fully booked and don’t need to look for new work. That puts me in a very cool position to grow my business in ways that I choose. Because I don’t need to market my business to find work in order to cover my bills, I can focus on building other opportunities. (So maybe you’re wondering why I chose income-generation as one of my rules. The reason is: I don’t want to get to day 75 or 80 and be tired of this challenge and then start jamming out proposals for guest blogs because I just want the challenge to be finished. There’s nothing wrong with guest blogs but that’s not where I want this challenge to take me).

Second, I’m very competitive with myself and I love to create challenges that push me out of my comfort zone. This is particularly welcome since a lot of my work has been focused on non-income-generating business building efforts (writing my book, researching a bunch of stuff, performing real estate due diligence, lots of administrative work, etc.). In other words, this challenge is going to get me back into the regular habit of pitching regularly.

THINKING AHEAD

I’m pretty excited about this right now so I think the first few days will be easy.

The hard part will be when I’m super-busy and I realize at 11PM that I haven’t sent out a proposal yet… and I’m not even sure where to send it. This will also be a challenge with some other social commitments and guests we have visiting in the near future. Therefore, I need to work ahead on this and start finding topics and potential people to pitch to, and it might mean preparing a couple of proposals on one day to be sent out on a schedule.

The other hard part will be if there is a very positive, rapid response to my proposals. It’s not likely going to happen but what if my first 10 proposals are accepted? I’m kind of screwed for the other 90. I don’t think that will happen. Some won’t respond; some will respond with a “no”; some will take a while to respond; and those that do respond may not need my work done immediately. I’m taking this risk because I think it’s likely going to be okay (at least for most of the time).

I’ll blog about my progress from time to time (but not everyday because who wants to hear about it that often?!?).

JOIN IN!

Care to join in? Tweak these rules for yourself (i.e. maybe you don’t want the income rule because you want to send out 100 guest blogging proposals — that’s cool). If you’re going to play along, put your challenge in the comments below.

This slightly out-of-focus picture is my 100 proposals in 100 days tracking sheet…

aaron-hoos-writer-100-proposals-tracking

Are You Ready for the Toughest Questions Every Financial Advisor Is Asked? — co-written with Rosemary Smyth

This article was co-written with my friend, Rosemary Smyth, an international coach to financial advisors. The article is also posted on her website.

As your plane taxis down the runway, the person beside you strikes up a conversation. The what-do-you-do-for-a-living question will usually come up. When it does, you know that they will inevitably follow up with another question – perhaps something like: “My brother-in-law is really into gold stocks. Do you have any hot tips?”

Many professions have these dreaded questions. Even in social settings, doctors are frequently asked for an impromptu diagnosis of a rash, mechanics are frequently asked to identify engine trouble, and you as a financial advisor are probably asked for some kind of portfolio-related guidance.

These questions happen everywhere – in airplanes, at family get-togethers, at neighborhood barbecues, or while you’re watching your kid’s ballgame. People hear that you’re an expert and they have questions and expect answers from you.

Rather than stumbling around an answer, savvy financial advisors prepare answers to the most common questions and have them ready to deliver when the questions inevitably come.

The 5 Types of Questions

Below, you’ll find the 5 types of questions you’ll be asked. Although some of these may seem similar when you first read them, it’s helpful to have responses for each type so that a question doesn’t catch you off-guard.

  1. Analysis/due diligence questions include questions like, “what do you think about XYZ Company?” or “what do you think about stocks in the ABC industry?” These are questions invite you to add to their knowledge about a particular company or industry.
  2. Forecasting questions include questions like, “where are interest rates headed?” or “what will the market do this week?” These are questions about what you think could happen in the future.
  3. Advice questions include questions like, “should I buy XYZ Company?” or “is the ABC industry going to turn around soon?” These questions ask you to provide portfolio-specific advice.
  4. Story questions include questions like, “what’s the most money you ever made on a trade?” or “did you have any money in XYZ Company before it tanked?” These questions are looking for stories of big wins or losses in the marketplace and often precede a story that they’ll share with you.
  5. Testing questions include questions like, “do you sell a lot of this new product?” or “have you ever heard of ABC Company?” These questions may seem innocent enough but they are actually testing you to see what you are like as an advisor and how you stack up to their perceptions of what an advisor should know.

These questions are a mixed blessing. On the one hand, they show that the person may be a potential prospect (or may know someone who is) and their questions demonstrate their interest in learning more about us. On the other hand, they are all-too-common questions that could be asked with the hope of getting free financial advice.

You know you’ll face these questions. So prepare now to respond to them advantageously.

How to Prepare Your Response

First, you’ll want to make sure that you can readily identify the likelihood of that person’s client potential. (This is done by knowing in advance who your perfect prospect is and what expertise you provide to your target market). This is key to ensuring that the rest of the conversation will provide value to both you and the person you are talking to.

Second, you’ll want to speak generally to their question (so it doesn’t look like you are avoiding their question) in a way that demonstrates your knowledge of the topic. For example: “XYZ Company has been volatile in recent months and there isn’t a lot of consensus among analysts.”

Third, provide a friendly disclaimer that explains how you can’t provide a specific answer without analyzing their portfolio or determining if it’s right for them. Do so in a professional way that shows how you care about providing the best advice possible. For example, “Whether or not I would recommend XYZ Company to you? Well, that’s a harder question and it really depends on the asset mix in your portfolio and your risk tolerance.”

Fourth, pivot to an action step for them. If they have the potential to become a client, invite them to your office for a further conversation with something like, “Why don’t I give you a call this week and set up an appointment…”. Or, if you know that they won’t become a client (i.e. because they live too far away or are not in your target market) then say something like, “your own advisor could give you far better advice than I could because he or she knows your portfolio and your financial goals.”

Additional Tips to Formulate Your Responses

As you think about your responses to the 5 types of questions all financial advisors are asked, use the following list to help you craft your answers:

  • Know who you want to serve and how you help them. It’s fine to say that you don’t know the answer to a question you’re asked, especially if it’s not something your clients need you to pay attention to.
  • Avoid the temptation to expound knowledgeably on the topic, which will only lock you into the conversation and make it harder to pivot to an action step.
  • Craft answers that are neutral (so they don’t give advice) while at the same time positioning the industry and the other person’s advisor in a positive light. Don’t disparage other advisors if they do things differently than you.
  • Always move the conversation toward an action step – one that draws the potential prospect closer to you (if appropriate) or one that steers them to a professional who can help them.
  • Be authentic. You’ll build rapport with the other person and you’ll enjoy your conversation more, and you’ll position yourself in the right way in case they know someone they can refer to you.

Action step: Write each of the five types of questions and then craft a professional, authentic response with two potential action steps, depending on how likely they are to become clients.

Rosemary Smyth, MBA, CIM, FCSI, ACC, is an author, columnist and an international business coach for financial advisors. She spent her career working at leading investment firms before pursuing her passion for coaching. She lives in Victoria, BC. Visit her website at www.rosemarysmyth.com. You can email Rosemary at: rosemary@rosemarysmyth.com

Aaron Hoos, MBA, has worked in the financial industry since 1997. Formerly a stockbroker, insurance broker, and award-winning sales manager, today he writes for the financial and real estate industry as an educator and marketer. He is working on his second book. Visit his website at AaronHoos.com and follow him on Twitter @AaronHoos.